September 12, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie



Chocolate cream pie is one of my favorite all time desserts.  The pudding filling is all at once both comforting and luxurious. One of life's little secrets is that indulgence does not have to be wildly decadent and rich but rather indulgence is also a thing of the senses, memories, and perceptions.  Can there be moderation in indulgence?   In chocolate cream pie the ingredients are as simple as chocolate, eggs, milk  but the combination reveals an indulgence in flavor, texture,  smell, and for me the many fond memories of eating chocolate pie as a child and as an adult.

My mother made chocolate cream pie at Christmas and I remember the excitement in the kitchen and the anticipation of eating it.  I now see that same happiness excitement in my own children's faces and hear it in their exclamations over this pie as I too usually make it only for holiday desserts.  They were so happy that I recently overcooked the brownies and didn't want to waste all that precious chocolate that went into the brownies and decided a chocolate brownie crust would be perfect for a chocolate cream pie.
Chocolate Cream Pie

1 1/3 cups cookie or  graham cracker crumbs, or a traditional pate brise works well too.
Note:  I overcooked a batch of brownies so I ground them up and used the brownie crumbs which was rendered a tender but firm crust with a slight chew.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. 
Smash cookies in a sealed plastic bag or pulse in a food processor. 
Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate.
Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

Chocolate Filling
2/3 cup sugar scant
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
Note:  How the chocolate tastes off the bar is how it will taste in the pie so go with your taste preferences.  If you prefer a 90% cacao chocolate expect your pie to have that edgy less sweet flavor. I used Shaferbergen with its delicious mellow, buttery, and super chocolaty flavor.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate over a double boiler.
In a small bowl, lightly stir yolks to break and set near stove.
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch,  and salt, in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking.
Bring to a simmer (steam begins to rise) and remove from heat.
Add a small amount of the hot milk mixture to the yolks stirring constantly.  Keep adding hot liquid to the yolks until tempered, usually three additions.
Whisk the tempered yolk mixture into the saucepan.
Over moderate heat bring boil, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick and leave a valley on the back of spoon if you dip a spoon in the pudding and draw a line down the spoon, the pudding should stay on either side of each line.
Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve  into a bowl (never skip this part and then serve the pie at a party!)
Stir in chocolate, butter, and vanilla.
Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Whipped Cream
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks.
Add vanilla and mix in.
Spoon on top of pie or individual slices as desired.


Bittersweet Chocolate

Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie with a Graham Cracker Crust

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